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How To Make A Computer Desk: Adding A Slide Out Drawer (Completed)

Posted by on Oct 9, 2011 in How To | 0 comments

Final with painted keyboard tray


In the last post I talked about the steps I took to make a cheap slide out desk tray. However, I hadn’t put any final finishes on it. Basically I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make it white like the rest of the desk or stain it wood colored. As you can see I didn’t do either. My friend had some extra paint left over from painting a few shelves, and I thought the dark brown would be a good contrast to the otherwise complete white.

At this point the desk is pretty much complete. However, I am considering adding a sing shelf under the desk. I still haven’t decided yet.

If you decide to build your own, be sure to let me know about it. I would love to see the pictures when it’s done.

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How to Make a Computer Desk: Adding a Slide Out Drawer

Posted by on Oct 4, 2011 in How To | 0 comments

DIY Computer Slide Out Tray

Last week I made a post talking about how to make a computer desk. After I got my new Imac, I realized that I needed more desk space. I also wanted my keyboard and mouse a little lower. Having it too high was making my arms tired. Simply put, I needed a slide out tray.

There are slide out trays available for sale, and I checked those first. Unfortunately, most were pretty expensive. I didn’t want to spend $40 on a tray when I only spent $25 on the entire desk. The other difficulty was was finding one here in Japan.

You can probably figure where this is going…

I decided to build my own. Building a slide out keyboard tray is actually quite simple. All you need are some sliding mechanisms (like what any drawer would have), a piece of wood for the tray, and a couple of brackets to mount it to the desk. All of the parts together cost me less than $10.

I designed my tray to be very low-profile, but you could put it at any height you want to. Mine is actually such a low profile I have to turn the keyboard sideways to allow the tray to slide back in. It still needs to be sanded and painted, but you get the idea.

Now, what to do for a chair?


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Dropbox: Saving Your Files online

Posted by on Oct 2, 2011 in Other, Time management | 0 comments

Last month I had bad luck with computers. My power chord on my main computer died, so I bought a new one which also burned out. No power chord basically meant that my computer was virtually useless. I decided to switch to an iMac. The reason for this was actually convenience. My dad had an iMac I bought him a couple of years ago that he was no longer using since I got him an iphone.

Losing the ability to use your computer or having a computer die makes you think about your files. I keep all of my important files backed up on an external hard drive, but that can also die. I finally decided what I needed was  a place online to store my files. That way I would have the ability to access them regardless of what computer I was using or where I was.

I wasn’t actually looking for a place to keep all of my files, but just a few select ones that I didn’t want to loose.

I looked at a few different sites, and finally decided on Dropbox for two reasons. One, it had applications on available on many platforms. Two, you start out with 2GB of space, but get an additional 250mb of space (up to 10Gb) for every person that you refer. Not a bad deal.

The user interface is also good. Dropbox shows up as a folder and whatever you put into it gets uploaded to your Dropbox file.

So here is my referral link to Dropbox. If you use this link we both get an additional 250mb of space.

Click here to Sign up for Drop Box


Once you sign up, please feel free to comment on how you like it or don’t. Also, feel free to comment if you have found a better service.


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How to Make a Computer Desk Out of Pallets

Posted by on Sep 29, 2011 in How To, Other | 2 comments

For the last couple of years I have been using a dining table as my computer desk. Since I got tired of having to move my computer, and since I have an iMac coming, I needed a new desk. I checked out a few of the ones available at the local stores, but after not liking the styles (or the prices), I decided to build my own. With the exception of 3 pieces (the top and two supports) the entire thing is made out of pallets. I spent about a total of $25 for all of the parts

Computer Desk Materials

Two of the panels are basically used as is. Though I did remove some of the bottom panels for a little more leg room. I dismantled the third panel for parts, which became the legs.

Bottom Panel

Then I just took longer boards I removed from the other pallet and connected the two.

Pallet Computer Desk with Legs

Lastly, I added a couple of cross braces to add stability, and painted the entire thing white. Depending on your location, you may be able to get away without staining or painting, but in the high humidity we have here it would probably have already rotted away.

Completed and painted

And since my new computer arrived yesterday: here is the final result!

Desk with iMac


The only thing left is to build a slide out trey for the keyboard and mouse. I am still thinking about the best way to go about it. Let me know if you have any ideas.

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Why I got rid of my iPhone

Posted by on Sep 24, 2011 in Money, Personal Development, Time management | 0 comments

The iPhone is a pretty cool gadget. By cleverly combining a computer with a cell phone, the iPhone has basically changed the cell phone industry overnight. And this isn’t just the case in the US. I live in Japan and the market here is now almost completely dominated by smart phones. So why if it’s so great, am I giving mine up? Let me explain.

When I first got my iPhone it was great. It allowed me to make phone calls, connect to all of my social media programs, use Skype, have a decent Japanese program, and not to mention the ability to watch YouTube from bed. It seemed perfect.

However, my love affair was soon ended when I received my first bill. The cost was over triple what I was previously paying. All of a sudden all of those extra features didn’t seem quite as valuable. The idea was that when I was in the house I would use wifi, so I wouldn’t get charged for using data. The problem was that the iPhone switched between the two and my data plan was maxed every month. So in order to make sure this didn’t happen I had to turn off 3G, which meant that I then couldn’t use email.

Now, the problem wasn’t actually with the iPhone, it was with the phone companies. They realized they had something people wanted and could charge a fortune for it. They created all kinds of new plans which REQUIRED you to opt into various services, which weren’t required with other phones even though they accessed data the same way. And since people were so thrilled with their smart phones, no one seemed to care.

After having my iPhone for over two years, I have come to the realization that an iPhone is a cool device. It combines the abilities of a cell phone and a tablet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do either one if these things as well as the originals. A basic phone costs far less and will allow you to make phone calls easier and cheaper than a smart phone. You also don’t have to worry so much about it getting damaged or lost. I can’t tell you how many times I leave my iPhone in the car (leaving me without a phone) when I go to the beach, for a jog, etc.

Yes, it can be used as a mini tablet, but the screen is too small to make it comfortable to do so. You have to spend too much time scrolling back and forth on the screen.

So yesterday I shut off my iPhone and am back with a regular cell phone. This time I went real simple and my bill is a third of what it was. That will easily save me enough to save up for a tablet in a few months if I choose to do so.

My new cell phone isn’t amazing, but it does something great that my iPhone never did that well: it works as a cell phone.

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Staying Organized and Getting Organized Online

Posted by on Sep 16, 2011 in Personal Development, Time management | 0 comments

When it comes to organization, I am a bit of a conflicted soul. It really bugs me when things are out place, but I am often not as well organized as I would like.

This feeling of disorganization is further enforced with all the time we spend on the computer. We have personal files, music files, photos, work files, bookmarks, favorites, videos, and all kinds of other stuff we need to keep track of. Now that I also do most of my work online, this has compounded even more.

The thing is, I know what causes the disorganization. Correcting the problem however, isn’t quite so easy.

The problem comes from bad planning or no planning at all.

The bigger problem is that once a system is in place it’s not easy to change. If you are like me, then maybe you have bookmarks in several places, photos on multiple hard drives, and in my case, different kinds of files among different types of operating systems. Finding all of those files and then organizing them is a much bigger project than properly organizing them in the first place.  Because of this, most of us just keep using the messed up system that we have.

However, chances to start over can come in unusual forms.

In my case, that was my main computer’s power chord breaking. It was also the fact that I needed to use one of my external hard drives for a different purpose. This forced my to get rid of a lot of documents I didn’t need and consolidate the rest into one place. I also have a new computer on the way that will allow me to keep everything in one place

Getting Organized Online

Now I am by no means an organization guru. However, I try to learn from my mistakes, and have done a few things that allow me to stay better organized.

Email- Over the years I have used a lot of e-mail programs and tried a lot of different e-mail accounts. I like having all of my e-mail available regardless of the computer or location, so I have gone online with that. I have had an MSN account from years and years, but I mostly use Gmail.

Online bookmarks– I have moved all of my bookmarks from my browser to an online bookmarking service. That way I can have my bookmarks no matter what computer I am on. Do be careful however, as I have seen a lot of start up companies shut down, and you don’t want to loose your bookmarks. I use Delicious.

Documents- Word documents, excel sheets, ect are all other things I have brought online. There are several services available, but I use Google Docs since I also have a gmail account.

Photos/videos- This is one I still have difficulty with. I use Picasa to view them, but i keep my pics stored on an external hard drive marked by event and date. I would like to move them online, but I am not sure if I am willing to pay for a service to host my pictures. Companies like Flicker/Picasa Web offer free storage, but only up to a certain limit. Any recommendations? I came across this blog in my search which has a pretty good list of photo sites: photo sites.

Readers- If you are like me, then you are probably subscribed to many blogs. Keeping up on them all can be difficult. Using an RSS reader makes it much easier. I have been using Google Reader for the last several years and I am happy with it. The one thing I recommend is to delete blogs that you no longer read. This will help from the “unread” numbers getting to overwhelming.

Calendar- This is something that I just reviewed recently as I was looking for a better option. I have been using Google Calendar, but since I use it for my classes, I never wanted to let it get cluttered up with daily tasks.  I also felt the tasks tab didn’t work well. However, after looking at other options I decided to stay with Google Calendar and use it slightly different. For my daily tasks time doesn’t really matter. So I mark them as “all-day” and they show up at the very top of the page. I only use the tasks bar for things I need to consider or think about.

Planning out your organization

My new computer should be arriving sometime next week or the week after. How well I implement the system I have created will depend on how well I have planned it out. I have spent countless hours trying to change bad planned organization, so spending a few to make a better system from scratch is time well spent.

Mind Mapping Software

At the moment I am creating two systems. One is how I organize information and data on my computer. The other is my work flow. Mind mapping software is a great option for this because it allows you to put everything down where you can see it and think out the process. However, it isn’t necessary. You can always use a pen and paper as well. For those who are interested in the software, check out this page.

Update: After writing this I tried free mind, and found it to be a bit difficult to use. I finally gave up on it, and then tried It’s real easy to use and free. It doesn’t have a ton of features, but it gets the job done.

How do you stay organized?

I would love to get your feedback and hear your stories of success (or horror). Let me know what programs you use, and what system you have found best. Do you prefer the way of technology or do you like keeping things on paper?



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